Restriction on distribution by Novell?

Matthew Garrett mjg59 at
Thu Sep 28 04:23:27 UTC 2006

On Thu, Sep 28, 2006 at 12:04:57AM -0400, Russ Nelson wrote:
> Philippe Verdy writes:
>  > Hmmm... diffs most often contain lines belonging to the GPL'ed sources. Beware of the format (diffs in the common "-u" format should be GPL'ed too!)
> Perhaps it's different in France, but I don't believe this is the
> case.  You can't infringe a copyright by commenting on the work.

If the commentary includes aspects of the original work, then of course 
you can. Specific jurisdictions may provide exceptions under certain 
circumstances, and it wouldn't surprise me if you could argue that fair 
use law covered patches in the US. However, it's not entirely clear to 
me that patch files could genuinely be considered commentary - the 
file is an obvious functional extension of the original work in a way 
that most things that would be considered commentary aren't. If you have 
any pointers to case law, I'd be interested.

Under UK law, "commentary" is limited to review or criticism of other 
works and requires explicit acknowledgement of the original source. It 
would be difficult to argue that patch files that are designed to alter 
the functionality of the original work fall into either of those 
catagories, and they certainly don't generally include acknowledgements.

It wouldn't seem sensible for a country to distribute files in such a 
way that they're unable to ship them to customers in various 
jurisdictions. GPL requirements aren't difficult to follow, and even if 
you feel a case could be made in the US that's of little reassurance to 
mirror operators in other states. I certainly don't want to be sued by a 
UK copyright holder because I'm copying patch files for internal 
Matthew Garrett | mjg59 at

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